How to Prepare for a New Semester

How was last semester for you? 

Did you easily breeze through, flitting from class to class, turning in perfectly completed assignments that your professors praised profusely, all with perfect makeup and a manicure? 


Did you feel so overwhelmed that you rushed from class to class, looking like a drowned, harassed rat, somehow managing to type up and print out assignments just as they were due, all while driving around in a car that hasn’t had an oil change in 9 months with half of your closet in the backseat? #nojudgment

Oh, you want to know how my fall semester went? It would be that second one. 

Starting a new job at a new school in a new school system had me completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that it reminded me of my first semester of college:

My first semester of college went a little like this: I was super excited about the first day of class, then the semester started and I don’t remember anything else until Christmas. 

My first semester of teaching in public school went a little like this: I was super excited about the first day of class, then the semester started and I don’t remember anything else until Christmas. 

(I told you they were similar).

So, THIS is the time to set ourselves up for success over the next semester! We know what to expect, we have a general idea of how long things take and the general expectations that we’re held to. It’s time to prepare for a kick-butt spring semester! Are you ready?! 
Let’s get started, shall we?

First, always, always, always start with a goal! 
Your goal will guide everything you do. Keep your focus on that goal and you will take intentional steps to achieve it! Organized Charm is literally filled with posts about goal-setting, from how to determine them, to how to write them, to how to follow through with them!

Second, as they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish. 
So get yourself a beautiful new planner! I just happen to know of a great one 😉 Everyone is different and different types of planners work for different people. Really do your research before committing to one and make sure it works best for YOU!

Third, what left you feeling overwhelmed last semester? 
For me, I kind of hated how messy I let my home get. I hated it that I sacrificed workout time for my work schedule (as in, I literally have not worked out since Daylight Savings Time ended). And I really hated it that I spent less time with my husband than I used to. So, for the new semester, I’m working on ways to not let those parts of my life get pushed aside. Remind yourself that school/work is only a PART of your life. It isn’t your life.

Fourth, take action now! 
If you know that something will be challenging to do once school has started, then get it done now! Once the new semester starts, I won’t have time to get my oil changed or go to the dentist, so those are tasks that I can cover over the break. Of course, enjoy your break, but also deal with stuff that will stress you out once you’re back in school!

Fifth, designate checkpoints! 
I don’t know how it’s possible but semesters seem to simultaneously fly by AND drag on at the same time. When you’re in the middle of it, it can feel really overwhelming, so set some checkpoints to keep you motivated! They can be short-term goals or little motivational reminders on your phone or in your planner! Anything to remind you that you’re on the right track, even when you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

The best way to prepare for the new semester is just to do as much planning as possible! For every minute you spend planning, you save yourself 11 minutes in the future! 

And in the midst of the chaos of a new semester, those 11 minutes will be gold! 🙂 

Follow Organized Charm on Pinterest for daily inspiration! 

4 Tips for Organizing Your Finances in College

Over the past few weeks, I have received FOUR requests for tips on budgeting in college! If you requested this post (or if you’re just trying to get your financial life together) this post is for you! If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or underprepared to deal with finances, let me assure you that you are most definitely not alone! 

In fact, read these statistics from a recent survey of college students: 

  • 47% are concerned about their financial situation

  • 50% say that the cost of impacted their choice of college/university

  • 75% wish there was more helpful financial information available to them

  • 80% report they were unprepared and do not have a plan to pay for college

Let me tell you that in grad school, I definitely fell under each of these statistics. It was my first time paying for school by myself and there was a LOT that I had to learn in a short period of time. Here are 4 of the most helpful pieces of advice that I can give!

1 | Don’t be afraid of smart debt. 

I kind of grew up being terrified of debt and assuming that it was all bad. I paid cash for everything in high school and college. My parents gave me a credit card for “emergencies” but I really only used it when I was out of cash and it was my turn to buy the next round of drinks needed something important. The word “debt” just sounds scary, doesn’t it? No one wants to be in debt! 

It wasn’t until I got married and saw how my husband handles his credit that my fear of “being in debt” went away. It’s pretty necessary to understand and be comfortable with credit and debt in adult-world and we need to learn how to navigate our way through it confidently. Our unofficial rule is that any acquired debt should have a long term benefit. For example, 

Student Loan = College Education = Job Opportunities = Long Term Benefit = Smart Debt

Cute Dress = Gets Worn Out = Gets Given Away = Short Term Benefit = Not Smart Debt

(Side Note: College means saying “not right now” to a lot of cute dresses but that’s ok because it will all pay off!)

If you’re looking for student loans, check out College Ave Student LoansThey simplify the student loan process that you can spend your time preparing for your bright future! In fact, their sole focus is student loans… which means that they’ll break things down and make this as simple as possible for you! 

There are several different plans and College Ave will help you find the one that’s best for YOU! Not only that, they have more repayment options than anyone else, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs! 

Click here to find out more:

2 | Use an app to help you maintain your budget

There are tons of financial apps out there! My favorite is Mint because it allows you to create your own budget (and adjust it at any time). Not only that, it sends you alerts when it thinks your account balance is low, or when you’ve had *ahem* “high spending” in a particular category (stop judging me, Mint). I like the fact that I can link my bank accounts to it also so it gives me up-to-the minute information. 

But your bank app will also work just fine for updating you! And what if you want to apply for a student loan? Oh, there’s a mobile friendly application for that, too! Just head over to the College Ave app, fill in the 4 questions it asks, and you’ll get an answer in about 3 minutes! That’s pretty painless, right? I bet you have 3 minutes right now! Not surprisingly, this is the fastest and easiest app in the student loan industry!

3| Set up a savings plan (and don’t touch what you save!)

A plan?! Yes, please! The one I use is SO easy! Through my banking app, I set up a thing (yes, that’s official term) where it automatically transfers $20 each month from my checking to savings account. That’s such a small, harmless amount to part with each month, but it still adds up over time. Find an amount that works well for you. 

Once that money’s in savings, pretend like it doesn’t even exist! If you do this amount throughout 4 years of college, you’ll graduate with $1,000! And that’s enough to buy some real furniture for your first post-grad apartment, to keep stashed away as an emergency fund, or to put toward the payoff of your student loan! 

If you’re curious about student loans but don’t want to commit to anything yet, check out the Credit Pre-Qualification Tool & Student Loan Calculator from College Ave! This will give you an idea of what to expect if you actually get a loan (and I am all about knowing what to expect)! 

By using this simple tool, you’ll have a clearer idea of your budget for the school year and make better money-saving choices! YAY! It also makes the whole student loan process a little easier to understand by showing you the total cost over the life of the loan and what would be the best payment plan for you! 

4| Pay as much as you can as often as you can

I never, ever, ever make minimum payments. Not on my student loans. Not on my credit card bill. Not on my phone bill. Never. Of course, paying your complete credit card balance every month is ideal and will skyrocket your credit score like crazy. But that’s not always doable, especially in college. 

I try to pay a little more than what’s required when it comes to credit and loans. Even just $30 more than the required amount will help you out in the future! This is what I did on every student loan payment that I made. And it made a HUGE difference on the balance over time! Additionally, if you get paid twice a month, pay as much as you can twice a month. 

I promise, it’s worth skipping a Target trip for! Additionally, College Avenue gives rewards for making in-school payments! That’s right, if you choose to start paying your loans while you’re still in school (highly suggested), then you’ll have a lower interest rate than people who wait till they graduate! And there is no penalty for paying early (a huge plus)! 

You can just get as much as you need to help pay your college expenses! College Ave covers up to 100% of school-certified expenses. But if you can pay most of your own expenses and just need $2,000 to get started, they can cover that, too! Check out the low rates, use the tools, and decide what you need to help you succeed! 

Okay! Are you ready for an Instagram contest? 

Of course you are! Head over to Instagram right now and share your college goals by using the hashtag, you guessed it, #CollegeGoals! 😀

Do this anytime between NOW and June 30th and you can win prizes, including a $50 Chegg textbook credit and a $5,000 college scholarship! 

Head to Chegg for more details:

A huge thank you to College Ave Student Loans and Her Campus Media for partnering on this post!

Dream On Wakeup Routine

I get asked pretty frequently about my different routines. So I thought I’d start sharing little rundowns of the different ones that I do throughout the days. Starting with (you guessed it) waking up! 
Oh, what’s that? You hate mornings?
Believe me, I know how tough they can be! But I’ve also learned that the way to deal with their tough-ness is with a good, old fashioned routine!

Don’t believe me? Just adapt this “Dream On” wakeup routine to fit your own schedule, try it for a few days, and see if it helps! 
From my experience, structure in the morning really has a positive impact on the rest of the day!
If I wake up late, wander around aimlessly for a couple of hours, blah, blah, blah… it’s hard for me to stay going or feel that productivity vibe later on in the day.

Have you had a similar experience?

So, here’s a quick run through of my morning routine! 
1 | Wake up with alarm: This is a big one! Waking up on time can make or break your productivity! When the alarm goes off, just jump up before you even have time to think about hitting snooze. I immediately start the coffee!

2 | Make coffee / Brush teeth / Wash face: These are super self-explanatory. On a good morning, I’ll do squats or leg lifts while I brush my teeth to make the time go by faster! On a rough morning, I’ll sit on the floor and try not to fall back asleep. 

3 | Drink coffee: Please. Just try to stop us.

4 | Read Jesus Calling: I have struggled and struggled to find a way to do a morning devotional. It can be tough to focus in the morning and that’s why this book is SO perfect! Each day is only 2 paragraphs and 2 verses… Yes, I CAN do that at 6 AM!

5 | Meditate: I either do 2, 5, or 10 minutes, depending on how much time I have. The Happify app is a great guide through the meditation process, if you’re just starting! Ashley Turner (my favorite!) also has one now, too! (Giam I think?)

6 | Happify Activity: So, that brings me to my next activity. The Happify app has tons of fast and free activities and they’re the perfect way to start out in a good mood! 1-2 minutes and you’re done!

7 | Read The Skimm & Eat Breakfast: The Skimm is just the best! Working with tiny children all day can make it difficult to keep up with news and current events. However, when they’re skimmed for me, wittily paraphrased, and sent straight to my inbox, I can catch up in the time it takes me to eat breakfast (which is always greek yogurt and honey, btw)!

So that’s how I start my mornings! You can screenshot and use this routine… adapt it into one of your own. Or just laugh at it.
How do you start your day? Is there anything you would like to add or improve about your own routine? What tricks do you use to get going in the morning?